Beyond Basic: Colorful & Patterned Photo Mats

Pin it button big

Matting photos and prints in frames is a great way to turn simple pictures into serious artwork (it even works for kids' finger painting). White mats are classic, of course, but that doesn't mean you can't play around with different colors and patterns for the frames in your space.

Colored and patterned mats are an unexpected way to change up a gallery wall or frame display. It's a small and easy commitment which pays off with a huge effect. You might want to start slow, but changing up the colors of your photo mats can be done and re-done in a few different ways:

  • Get new ones cut from colored mat board at a framing store.
  • Cut your own new mats with this tutorial.
  • Paint or cover the mats already in your frames.

So find a spot in your home, decide how daring you want to be, then try out one of the frame styling ideas below:

Pin it button big

Level 1: Introduce One Neutral

Only ready to take baby steps? Switch out the mat in just a single frame for a soft netural, like light blue or kraft-paper brown. The team from Framed & Matted tried this out in a gallery wall featured on the Rue Magazine Blog with a dusty blue mat.

Pin it button big

Level 2: All-Over Neutrals

Take on that same neutral color and multiply the effect in all or most of your frames. This product photo of West Elm's Gallery Frames captures the look well.

Pin it button big

Level 3: Choose a Single Statement Color

Want to take off the training wheels? Pinpoint a color that's already in the room or artwork, and tie it into the frame mat, like Jessie of Cape 27 did with the blue in her dining room (pictured top). For maximum drama, just multiply the frames, like in this shot with vintage travel brochures in red mats from Coastal Living.

Pin it button big

Level 4: Try on a Print or Pattern

Paper and fabric can both be used to cover mats for a unique look. Martha Stewart did it with a map, but you can try any patterned paper or swatch of fabric you like.

Pin it button big

Level 5: A Rainbow Connection

Why settle on one color? Use a rainbow of hues to turn a simple gallery into a serious statement wall. This pic of black and white photos in a grid from Martha Stewart's Kevin Sharkey is the only inspiration you need.

(Image credits: Cape 27; Rue Magazine; West Elm; Coastal Living; Martha Stewart Weddings; Martha Stewart)